High Court of Australia

Coughlan v The Queen [2020] HCA 15

24 Apr 2020

Case Number: B60/2019

Before

KIEFEL CJ, BELL, GAGELER, KEANE, EDELMAN JJ

Catchwords

Criminal law – Arson and attempted fraud – Appeal against conviction – Where prosecution case based on circumstantial evidence – Where appellant's house destroyed by explosion and resulting fire – Where appellant present at and seen running away from scene – Where appellant gave version of events to police consistent with innocence – Where appellant made insurance claim on house and contents in connection with fire – Where no apparent financial motive to commit offences – Where expert evidence that explosion caused by build-up of gaseous vapours – Where petrol residues found on appellant's clothes – Where no evidence of petrol residues in house – Whether open to jury to be satisfied of appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt – Whether prosecution excluded reasonable possibility that explosion caused by build-up of gas ignited by electrical fire.

Words and phrases – "absence of apparent financial motive", "arson", "attempted fraud", "beyond reasonable doubt", "circumstantial case", "consciousness of guilt", "inference consistent with innocence", "lack of motive", "reasonable possibility", "scientific evidence".

Criminal Code (Qld) – ss 408C(1)(c), 459, 461(1)(a).
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